Esri joins the R Consortium

The GIS vendor sees R users as an important market

R and ArcGIS example

An example Esri's ArcGIS software

Credit: Esri developer summit video

In another sign of R's push into the enterprise, leading GIS vendor Esri has joined the R Consortium, adding to a roster of tech companies that includes Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Google.

The move potentially makes R more attractive as a tool for data work that involves geospatial analysis, since Esri is a key vendor in that market. But it's also aimed at making Esri more appealing to analysts and data scientists who use R in their data workflow. "Our support will help our customers take advantage of R’s deep analytic capabilities while also allowing R users to leverage Esri geospatial analysis and visualization," Esri President Jack Dangermond said in an emailed statement.

Last year, Esri created a suite of tools called the R-ArcGIS Bridge, which "provides a way for R-based analyses to be shared with a much larger audience of analysts who are familiar with GIS but who may not know how to program R,” Steve Kopp, Esri senior product engineer, said via email. There have been close to 5,000 downloads from that GitHub repository since it launched last July, according to the company. A session on the Bridge at this year's Esri developer summit (see video) also pointed out that R users could benefit from the tools even if they don't use ArcGIS software for analysis, since they could pull enterprise data that resides in the Esri platform for their own work.

Esri has several more R projects underway. "We are working on adding raster support to the R-ArcGIS bridge, developing a collection of tutorials with sample tools and online training materials, and collaborating with some customers developing additional samples," Kopp said in the emailed statement.

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